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I'm well-aware that Soviet propaganda completely changed its orientation after the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, starting a much more positive portrayal of the Nazis in many aspects up until the German invasion, even censoring antifascist literature and such*. Did something similar happen in Germany with regards to their portrayal of the USSR, or were these "feelings" not mutual?

*There're various sources for this, e.g. in the 2nd volume of "Russen und Deutsche in der Zwischenkriegszeit" (Eimermacher, Volpert, Bordjugow, also published in Russian). Also something related I didn't find a source for but would be interested in verifying is a claim on Russian wiki page of Yuri Levitan (and on some pro-Soviet Russian blog, which is strange since I would expect to see such a thing in anti-Soviet sources) that he announced Rommel's victories in North Africa on radio (and even announced his victory in the battle of Gazala on 22 of June, 15 minutes before Molotov's announcement about the invasion of USSR). While I couldn't find a source for this specific claim, it's not that unbelievable given what I described above about Soviet propaganda in 1939-1941.

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    Would Anti-Komintern answer your question? If not, could you specify what exactly remains unanswered?
    – DevSolar
    Jun 5, 2023 at 15:28
  • Apparently the Communist newspapers continued to be published in France even after German occupation (from June 1940) - as PCF was supporting the USSR and the Pact even after the invasion of Poland and the declaration of war by France and Germany (which is why PCF was prohibited, and its leader deserted the army for Moscow.)
    – Roger V.
    Jun 20, 2023 at 8:11

2 Answers 2

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Yes, they did. Before and after the pact, anti-Soviet films simply portrayed the Communists as brutal murderers. This was suppressed during it.

Already released films were withdrawn, such as Frisians in Peril and Refugees, both of which portrayed persecution of Volga Germans in Russia. (Refugees was, through some errors, not withdrawn immediately, which complicated propaganda.)

After the pact ended, Frisians in Peril was re-released under a new title, and other films such as GPU were added.

Erwin Leiser's Nazi Cinema has some good information on this.

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The Molotov-von Ribbentrop treaty was the culmination of over a decade of good relations between Germany and the USSR.

What changes there would be to the public perception (and thus propaganda) would be gradual, not sudden. Sudden massive changes in propaganda generally don't work, you need to build it up over time if you have a target population who are at all intelligent (so not a Tiktok generation) and especially if they may have access to other sources of information next to your own.

Obviously it IS possible to suddenly change an attitude with shock events, as happened on the outset of WW2 with false flag operations against Poland and later the USSR, but even then a gradual buildup of hostile sentiment is generally to be preferred. And remember that the German people were already not very friendly with the Poles, and communists (rather than the Soviet government, who both the German propaganda pre-Barbarossa and the western propaganda pre-1945 did not mention were communists) were already not in high favour in Germany.

I've not made a deep study of German propaganda re the USSR during that short period but what I have seen doesn't strike me as a major shift in content or purpose, nothing like what happened in the period around the start of Barbarossa.

Also remember that Hitler and Stalin admired one another for what they had achieved (even if it is doubtful you could ever call them friends). Something that was written out of history by British and American propaganda post-Barbarossa because "Uncle Joe" had to be portrayed as the staunch anti-Hitler bulwark who could do no wrong (boy how that changed post-WW2) and thus any ideological or economic ties between Germany and the USSR had to be forgotten.

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  • Citing sources would improve this answer. Currently it reads like speculation.
    – SPavel
    Jun 5, 2023 at 12:10
  • Yes, speculation. -1 Jun 5, 2023 at 12:22
  • The sudden change was that the NSDAP basically stopped their anti-Bolshevist propaganda machine dead in their tracks from 1939 till 1941. "Good relations" on the top level and anti-propaganda on the streets are not mutually exclusive.
    – DevSolar
    Jun 5, 2023 at 15:32
  • That partly answers it, thanks. I'd like a broader overview if possible, e.g., how consistent was the halt of the propaganda? Surely it didn't come from just this agency. How did other Germans reacts to the pact and the sudden halt of propaganda? Were they confused by such a decision? Did other agencies, or newspapers, or something like that, try to publish anti-Soviet material anyway?
    – yuajo
    Jun 5, 2023 at 21:08

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